Last night i finished Kathy Acker's Blood and Guts in High School. A strange choice for bedtime reading? i had very weird dreams, that's for sure.
Sex, violence and language learning. Incest, slavery and poetry.
It's what i was trying to write in high school, but couldn't. It's what i wish i were writing now but retreat from.
i made a mistake reading the back cover, which states that Kathy Acker's work "has been labeled everything from post-punk porn to post-punk feminism." It made me expect a gross-out book, and with the reference to slavery maybe even torture porn. But it wasn't that at all. It was raw & angry & whimsical & complex & direct & multilingual & literary & not porn at all. i should have known. Some people call anything with pictures of dicks pornographic. Not to say that there wasn't a lot of rape in the book, there was. Of course it was about rape & consent & fucked up families & relationships.
What surprised me was how much of the rhetoric about bodies and autonomy and language i see repeated on feminist blogs today and it is still a new argument. It is still a new argument because people are still shocked & reactionary.
The punk i grew up with is 80s/90s punk. i wanted to compare B&GiHS to Jello Biafra (full of rage, but smart enough to sense futility in the face of political systems and power hierarchies). But of course, Acker published this book the year Biafra's band, The Dead Kennedys, formed. i also think of this song:
Bikini Kill "Suck My Left One"
Kathleen Hanna, Bikini Kill's singer-songwriter, lists Acker as an influence. So really i've been absorbing second-hand Acker since i was in high school.
And really Blood and Guts in High School is both the most and the least about high school of any book i can think of.